Monday, July 09, 2012
book review: Walks in the Wheatfield by Richard Jefferies
One of the numerous attractions of reading is the way that a book can transport you to a different world and give you a mental break from the day to day routine of a commute.
This book describes a world completely alien to me as a city dweller. The ways of the country are things I know little about and this is not only a glimpse into a landscape of wheat fields and rabbit burrows but also of the past.
The narrator tells simple stories about his development as a countryside expert in shooting and land management and so you are taken into a world where a day is quite happily spent hunting birds, clearing out rabbit burrows for a neighbouring farmer or simply valuing the importance of wheat.
Not all of the story is easy to follow and it's not always green and pleasant in the countryside, but in terms of transporting you away for a few hours it does the job perfectly.
In some ways it made me think more about the countryside and the jobs undertaken by those that live there alongside the fields, trees and animals. Watching Countryfile or occasionally dipping into the Archers does not deliver quite the same experience.
Along with it being a hymn to the beauty of the countryside this also acts as a requiem for a lost age. Pre-war shooting birds was as far as it went but before long those same farmers would have to take to the trenches and the countryside described here would change even further because of mechanisation.
See this book for what it is: an almost perfect escape into an idyllic past balanced with real life creeping in at the edges.